Florida is home to the first Spanish established colonial settlement in the United States. A big part of that establishment are the military forts that were built to offer protection and shelter.
Historic forts in Florida also happen to be among some of the best preserved forts located in the United States. If you are planning a Florida vacation, these landmarks are worth a visit because of the significance they played in establishing this country and in the development of the local communities where they exist.
The following are some of the historic forts to visit in Florida. Each offers a unique look at an important point in the history of the state.
Fort Christmas was founded on Christmas day in 1837, and built to offer protection and shelter during the intense Seminole Indian War. The existing fort houses exhibits and artifacts from that period, 1870-1930, give guests an idea of what life was like during its occupation. Each month features a festival or reenactment where visitors can take a step back into history and explore the several historical homes that make up the park. Because the fort was built from timber, it is important to remember that it is a replica, but even this replica of a historical fort is worth your time because of the significant role it played in the wars fought to gain control over the region.
St. Augustine holds the title as the oldest city in the United States, being settled by the Spanish conquistadors nearly 450 years ago. The Castillo De San Marcos is the town’s historic fort, a relic that is still standing today. While you could easily spend an entire weekend vacation exploring St. Augustine, a visit to the fort can be seen in a couple of hours. Daily weapon demonstrations and reenactments that cover the daily life and military training that took place in the fort are performed. A Park Ranger program gives you a peek into more detailed daily activities of the fort with a wide variety of subjects that will interest serious history buffs and capture the curiosity of children.
Located in the Gulf of Mexico, 70 miles off the coast of Key West, the Dry Tortugas National Park consists of seven small islands and one holds Fort Jefferson. The fort was built to serve and protect the waters around the Gulf of Mexico and provide a strategic naval outpost for the country. Construction on Fort Jefferson started in 1846 and lasted over 30 years, but ultimately it was never fully completed. To get to the National Park and Fort, guests need to arrange for travel on a public ferry, or get there via seaplane or private boat. Because of its remote location and transportation limitations, make sure you plan well ahead of time and are able to carry with you everything you will need for a day spent at this historic, but very remote, location.
Once there take a guided tour of historic Fort Jefferson and then take an even longer self guided tour to explore all the nooks and crannies, where you can get some incredible views of other parts of the fort and island. If you plan on making a day of it, be sure to pack swim gear and a snorkel. You can also camp, take a hike or even rent a kayak.
These 3 historic forts to visit in Florida can easily be fit into your travel schedule. Take a couple of hours and immerse yourself in history.
Have you visited Historic Forts in Florida? Which do you recommend?
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